Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Poet's United & Friday Flash 55 "The Grand Old Hat"

My Great Aunt, 1905

Edwardian Days
When swirling skirts gracefully 
Swept the floor, ankles carefully hidden.
Puffed up like a proud pigeon and resembled
   An instrument measuring time.
Oh, how to show
Individuality? Dare
We suggest such a
Thing?  A prim and
Proper young
Must wear her hat squarely
Upon her head; no silly feather, please!
But, if one had a desire for a bit of frivolity, well a trip
To the Hat Maker might just do the trick.  A feather added and tilted
To one        side, a splendid ornate hat to promenade.  A       multitude 
Of other       frivolous items could grace the crown:  A poppy,      a plume,
How         about a large cabbage rose?  A bit overwhelming?          Well,
 That was         the very idea!  To have fun, live a little, after all,             it was
 Just                           a hat.  The only thing exposed                          was 
Hair!                        Sometimes splurged, and added a                     bird?
Well,                                 Not a whole bird,                                   nor 
Even                                             a                                           whole
Wing.                                       For                                      many
Years,                             Twenty                           in fact, 
The               Audabon Society            fought
To outlaw such animal cruelty!  
Even hat pins were subject to the law!
Why, they could only extend so far - dangerous
Weapons they.  Known for poking, scraping and stabbing!
Regulations on how far they could protrude without hat-pin
Protectors. Some were banned from public transportation, in fact.
So, no whole birds, but how about bunches of cherries, blackberries
Or ribbon rosettes?  Hats made to whirl, flow and dip; some swathed in
Tulle.  Some glorious hats mysteriously rested upon the hair, thanks to 
The secret of “wadded” hair saved from thy very own brush to make the 
Grand pompadour!   Possibly a bit of mystery might be desired; was that
Even allowed?   It could be arranged with a bit of cobweb trim hanging
Over the face.  Social gatherings were not complete without one’s hat,
In fact it was part of proper etiquette.   Quite disgraceful to be seen
Without!  Even the little widow could not step out... all in black, of
Course.  No feather for that would be too gay but the veil was ok.
Oh yes,  the good  Ol’ Edwardian Days!  Most likely styles to never 
Be seen again. Glimpsed by some of us still alive as we watched
Our grandmothers step out.   Those wonderfully grand ladies who knew 
How to dress in style, held on to their "vogue" until the very end. White 
Gloves, snap purse dangling at the elbow, and perhaps, the hats a
Bit smaller, but there non-the-less.  Ornate glasses framed many of 
Their smiling faces, pearls circling their necks.  Still buttoned up with 
Proper skirt line maintained; although a few inches shorter.  How “modern”
They must have felt.  So here’s a nod to the grand ladies of old, who wore
Those hats with such style and grace.  How were they able to carry off
Such hats as these? Looking at the photos, their eyes might offer a clue.   
The                    Women's
Suffra                     gette's
Atti                        tude?
 In Courage                 And Honor.     

by Margaret Bednar

My Grandmother
I remember going through the hat boxes in my grandmother's attic.  They were piled atop one another and these "ancient" hats were packed amongst newspaper.  How I wish I had these hats today!

And below is an old fashioned hat and head created with 55 words :) for the G-Man's challenge "Friday Flash 55" a story in 55 words no more no less.  See what you get when limited to 55 words?  Not even half a woman :)

Edwardian days
grand hats worn squarely
upon a proper lady's head, no silly feather,
please; but if one did desire a bit of youthful frivolity
a poppy, a plume, a large cabbage 
rose could be  added
to whirl, flow, dip, a bit
of intrigue, hat tipped
pinned carefully
with style &


Kim Nelson said...

I LOVE THIS, Margaret! Thank you for sharing it with us at Verse First. Your aunt and grandmother were beauties; and they had fabulous style sense, too!

Your poem, sharing details about rebellious women of the time, is further enhanced by the bodacious shape in which you housed it. Makes me more comfortable in my own skin this morning!

Happy Wednesday!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh this is a wonderful write, full of old time fashion and "sensibilities". I wish you had those hats too - what a wonderful look back. The hats show us how far we have come from those days of "propriety". When I was a teen, we still wore hats and white gloves to church..........then came young womanhood and the women's movement and I never wore a hat (or a husband!)again!

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...


Thank you for writing and sharing an historical piece which has such strength and a relevance today.


Old Ollie said...

amazing and glorious - a perfect ode to women

Janet Martin said...

Wow! I so enjoyed this, the form, the photos and the history! Beautiful as always!

Janet Martin said...

p.s. a small way I can relate, having been raised in a very strict culture...the rebels pushed their bonnets to the back of their heads, 'poofed' their hair and BRAIDED their buns!! tsk. tsk.

Mary said...

Margaret, this is truly inspired! I am so impressed with the wording, with the form.

Kelvin S.M. said...

...o, WOW!!! first you had me at the form initially... i've seen many shape poems before but this one is quite impressive... i wonder how you did it... did you use some kind of program or apps to generate your words in this kind of shape or figure? or you just typed it manually to form that shape...? it actually reminds me of Nanny McPhee... hihi..
...i think the kind of hat the women wore back in the ages defines their status in the society... truly a wonderful offering... most enjoyed piece... smiles...

Margaret said...

Thank you, Kelvin. I did it manually - as I thought of what to write. It took about two hours. I must say, I surprised myself! :)

Margaret said...

Janet - Rebels. Gotta love them! Thanks for your kind words

Lydia said...

Oh! This is wonderful, Margaret! How creative and full of sparkling fun. So innovative and educational, too. Great work! Also, your grandmother and great aunt were both such striking women. It really is too bad you don't have the hats. I have a cedar chest full of clothes saved by my grandmother, but only one hat, a fur one, with matching muff, that looks like it belongs in Dr. Zhivago!

uneven steven said...

holy cow! how cool is that! very nice

Mama Zen said...

This is so neat!

anthonynorth said...

Excellently done. I take my hat off to you.

Brian Miller said...

ya cut off her head to make a 55!!!! oh my...smiles...hahaha....really very cool concrete piece margaret....hats are pretty cool, esp the vintage ones....

izzy said...

Very fun and lovely Photo's! the ostrich plumes were fascinating- and fragile! I think I broke a bit of one
examining one of my Grandmother's
in a hat box! thanks.

TALON said...

Very cool, Margaret. I can tell a lot of work went into this.

(I'm now sitting up straight and minding my p's and q's and looking down at my computer screen at the end of my nose!)

G-Man said...

Thats the way we like em around these parts, succinct and to the point! You did a lot of painstaking fancy typing Margaret Bednar. Thank You for this visual delight.
Loved your Edwardian (NOT Victorian) 55
Thanks for this very classy post(s)
and have a Kick Ass Week-End

McGuffy Ann said...

I love this! Extremely creative and well done. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I love both versions! How nice it would be to see those grand old hats.

Emma Major said...

the first versionlooked amazing but with my dodgy eyesight I couldn't follow it :( I loved the shorter versionthough